Monthly Archives: February 2013

The NeverNever, part 2

In part 1 of this article, I said: “Such portal areas explain why some areas seem to be hotbeds of paranormal activity but they do not really help us look at random high strangeness happening in random areas . . . ” In this section of the piece, I will present a theory that I think helps to explain some of the strangeness going on in seemingly random spots across the globe.

First a bit of history. Many historians of the esoteric trace the modern occult revival back to the French occultist known by his nom de plume, Eliphas Levi, and his publication of Dogme et Ritual de la Haute Magie in 1855. This work was a spark that re-ignited interest in the much maligned magic of the Middle Ages and set the stage for such important groups as the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in the latter part of the 19th century. Since that time, and especially since the end of World War II, the repeal of the Witchcraft Act of 1736 in Great Britain and the subsequent foundation of Wicca in the 1950’s, there has been a steady increase of occult knowledge being made available to the public.

Beginning with books and spreading onto the Internet once the worldwide web became easily available, information on magical practices has never been more freely available and, while a lot of the material out there is sheer unadulterated crap, authors from all areas of the magical continuum have produced and continue to produce quality work which can have a real effect in people’s lives if they are willing to put in the time and practice for their esoteric studies.

In addition, good teachers are now making lessons available online for those who want more guidance but who can not attend in person. For example, Jason Miller, the author of several interesting books (including the highly recommended Protection and Reversal Magic), offers a full year magical training program that he calls Strategic Sorcery. In those lessons, a would be magic user can learn all the skills necessary to really effect change in their lives and go on to study other magical arts from a strong knowledge base. Mr. Miller’s work is but one of many quality magical training programs available online for a fairly modest price.

The down side to this plethora of information is that the occult is not longer so occult. The “hidden knowledge” of the past has become the subject of everything from books to podcasts and has given rise to a whole generation of “dabblers”. In the past, if you wanted to learn magic, you had to find someone or some order that was willing to teach you and you had to commit to learning to do things their way, even if you found that the practice did not exactly suit you. Nowadays, anyone with a modicum of talent and a book can perform spells and rituals that may and often do have a definite effect.

Now, if you happen to be of a magical bent, you are probably thinking that there is no way most of these wannabe spell slingers are doing anything more than mental masturbation and, for the most part, I would agree with you EXCEPT that there are recorded instances of stone skeptics pulling out a grimoire, setting up a ritual as if it were real and doing an invocation with shockingly real results. I recall reading, for example, the story of a group of scholars who nearly burned up the room they were in when the fireplace flared during a “mock” ritual invoking Mars. One or more people in that group had some native talent and, combined with the ancient energy channel they were working with, the magic worked.

So, we have a perfect storm – one part freely available magical lore (some of it from quite old sources), one part people who may be emotional about a subject and willing to use magic to remedy it and one part natural talent. Shake, stir and wave a wand and you have a circumstance that could open a portal quite easily but only for a limited period of time.

Here is an example. Let’s say that John is having girl trouble. He has been in several relationships but they just never seem to work out the way he would like and he is getting sick of the dating game. John happens to be one of those folks who enjoys browsing the New Age/Occult section of his local bookstore (or Amazon, for that matter) and he happens to spy a book on improving your love life with magic. He buys the book and discovers a number of spells and rituals for attracting the perfect mate but is particularly taken by one ritual, derived from an ancient grimoire, that conjures a spirit to go out and seek the perfect mate and bring him or her into your presence.

John gets excited. The ritual calls for robes and candles and sigils and all sorts of really cool magical stuff. John gets into this, he spends days thinking about it, works to prepare the proper color robe and coverings for an altar, goes out and buys candles of the appropriate color along with some nifty holders and even digs up some incense in the specified scent to make this as perfect as he can. John spends time actually memorizing the ritual so that he does not have to have the book open to distract him.

John decides that he will do the ritual outdoors since his pesky roommate has a bad habit of bursting in at the wrong moment and always complains about the scent of incense. On the correct day (according to his manual), John goes out into the night at the proper hour and does this ritual exactly as he has memorized. He is “stoked”, he really gets into the ritual and discovers that he actually feels something as he prepares the space, does the opening etc. His voice rings out like a bell as he calls the spirit he is looking for and a cool answering breeze tells him that the spirit is present. He makes an offering to the spirit as per the ritual and makes his request, detailing what he is looking for in a perfect mate. He gives the spirit license to depart and do his bidding, closes the ritual and goes home content in the knowledge that the love of his life will soon appear.

Only that is not the end of the story. John is new to all this stuff and very excited by his success in getting this spirit to appear. Also, this magic stuff is hard work and he is more tired by the end than he thought he would be. He fudges the ending of the ritual, forgetting some of it and going home to his warm bed. The ritual actually took place near one of those old Indian mounds. Viola, that night, someone in the area reports seeing a – fill in the strange entity of your choice – . John managed to open the door but he failed to close it properly and something besides his love spirit came though.

Now, take this scenario, multiply it by the thousands of people who have access to this type of information and you have a whole new source of high strangeness. Spirits of varying sorts, able to manifest to varying degrees, able to come through until the energy that holds the portal open degrades to the point where it closes. I do not just blame novices either. There are many reasons why magic might go a little awry and leave a portal open for a time. Something as innocuous as someone coming home before a practitioner is done with a rite could knock things askew. My point is that, with the plethora of magical practitioners of all sorts out there, the opportunities for these temporary portals increases exponentially and thus so do the opportunities for people to witness all manner of weirdness coming through from the Otherworld.

The NeverNever, part 1

Alright, I admit it, I am a huge fan of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series. Those of you who have read these books will know right away what the NeverNever is but, for those who have not discovered the wonders of Chicago’s only professional wizard p.i., let me explain. In the Dresden universe, most of the action takes place in this world, the physical plane, consensual reality or whatever you would like to call it. However, one of the important skills that Butcher’s wizard learns is how to navigate the NeverNever, what I sometimes call the Otherworld.

In the books, Harry Dresden acquires a certain talisman that guides him in the NeverNever and makes him able to navigate to where he wants to be in the physical. In other words, he can take a route through the NeverNever that will drop him in another part of our world. While I have never heard a legitimate claim of someone actually doing this in ‘real life’, I am sure some Fortean somewhere has collected stories of people who have disappeared from one place and reappeared elsewhere. Now that I think on it, it seems to me that there are stories of this nature in faery lore. What is important here is that, when Dresden wants to travel in the NeverNever, he has to magically open a way. In an emergency, he can do this anywhere but then he has no idea where he is going to end up or what might come out to greet him. If time allows, he prefers to go to certain set places in the city and its surrounds where he can open a way onto a known path.

Sound familiar? How many paranormal authors have written about “window” or “portal” areas where high strangeness seems to abound? Linda Godfrey talk about the prevalence of ancient Native American mounds in manwolf sighting areas. Nick Redfern discusses the many incidences of odd occurrences in the area of Cannock Chase and particularly a certain cemetery there. Paranormalists of all stripes have talked about places like the Bridgewater Triangle that seem to have a lot of interesting episodes taking place over a period of time. If the book is to be believed, the place known as Skinwalker Ranch is a hotbed of paranormal phenomenon where scientists have actually witnessed the opening of what appeared to be a portal. Whether the materialist scientists and so-called skeptics want to admit it or not, the Otherworld exists and it can be accessed from this world.

As in the Dresden universe, there are some places where the veil between the worlds is thin and the Otherworld has more ability to intrude into our world – the so called window or portal areas. There are a number of reason why a place becomes such a portal:

1) The area may have been the site of religious or magical ceremonies over a long period of time. Any place where the Otherworld is accessed regularly develops a sort of weak spot where the Otherworld can interface with this world. If you are not sure about this, walk into a very old church with an open mind and see what you sense. Too, in those places where the faery or a particular god or goddess were propitiated, one will also find portal areas.

2) The area may have been the site of a major magical working. It is said that the witches and magicians of Britain banded together during World War II to do work that prevented Hitler from invading the island. I suspect, given the amount of power that would have been raised in this endeavor, that some of the sites where this work was performed have become permanent portals to the Otherworld.

3) There may be earth energies at work in the creation of the portal. This is a chicken and egg argument since magicians tend to gravitate to certain “nodes” of earth energy. Was the way open already or did the magic worked there open it? Either way, the conjunction of several lines of earth energy in a place create the conditions for a portal to be opened.

4) Some portals may be created simply by the concentrated belief that there is a portal in that locale. I can not say whether the Bermuda Triangle existed when Columbus sailed but, after millions of people reading about it and contemplating the alleged disappearances there, it certainly exists today.

5) A portal area may, in some instances, have been opened from the Otherworld by a being powerful enough to walk into this world. If you ever see this happening, I suggest that you hide . . . anything powerful enough to come through the veil on its own, is a force to be reckoned with whether it likes humans or not.

I am sure there are probably other ways that a portal area can be created but these are the ones that I can come up with straightaway.

Such portal areas explain why some areas seem to be hotbeds of paranormal activity but they do not really help us look at random high strangeness happening in random areas. I will explain my theory on some of these occurrences in part 2 of this post.

Men in Black

Life imitates the weather here in Georgia: when it rains it ours. There have been a number of articles on the Men in Black in various forums that I follow over the past couple of days so I just can not resist the desire to comment on this one.

The Men in Black (MIB) phenomenon is one that has been a part of UFO lore since at least the 1940’s and, as with most things in the UFO community, the discussion of MIB’s causes immediate polarization. In one camp, we have the “hard ET” people who are convinced that “flying saucers” are spacecraft from other worlds and that the MIB’s are government agents sent to dissuade people from talking about or researching them. On the other side of the chasm, we have the group I favor, who see UFO’s as more of a paranormal phenomenon and are open to the possibility that the craft and the reported creatures who come from them might be a trans-dimensional phenomenon (in my terms, visitors from the Otherworld) and that MIB’s are far more unexplainable.

While I fall firmly into the paranormal camp in regard to UFO’s and their occupants, I have my reasons for doing so. While those reasons are not based on personal experience yet, my informants give me good reason to believe what I have outlined in my articles on The Grays. The MIB, though, is a separate issue altogether and, as with many things in the paranormal field, I believe there are likely a number of explanations for these enigmatic beings.

1) I am quite certain, given some of the witness statements, that some of the MIB’s are, in fact, government agents sent out to questions witnesses and discourage them from talking about their experiences in public. Given that there is a subset of UFO sightings that may have to do with secret military aircraft, this makes sense. Needless to say, the UFO “skeptics” and debunkers assume this theory for the MIB phenomenon, if they even lend credence to MIB witnesses, since it requires no effort of thought on their part and accords with their materialist world view.

2) There are those who theorize that the MIB’s are actually aliens in disguise. While I am not a big fan of the extraterrestrial (i.e. from another planet/galaxy) theory, it is possible that the MIB’s are actually representatives of what I call the Intruders, the astral/etheric entities who prey upon humans. If so then the menace and threats of the MIB’s are simply an extension of the Intruder’s overall plan to “harvest” the emotional energy of human beings. I find this theory awkward though since I am reasonably certain that the Intruders are master shape shifters. It’s possible that the awkwardness and out of time clothing and cars are all part of the plan to create an aura of “alienness” and menace. I feel that this is the weakest theory since these entities have been doing this for eons; if they want to be menacing, they have more than enough ways to do it without creating awkward MIB scenarios.

3) The tulpa or thought form theory has also been advanced to explain the MIB’s. If you do not believe that a thought form can take solid manifestation, then I suggest you peruse a copy of The Magical Use of Thought Forms by Dolores Ashcroft-Nowicki and J.H. Brennan. My primary question in regarding MIB’s as thought forms is this. A thought form does not simply arise spontaneously – either it is magically crafted and empowered by the magical arts of the creator or it may arise from the concentrated thoughts of a large group of people, focused on a certain image, over a period of time. Since the MIB seems to go back to the very beginning of the “flying saucer” era, I am wondering what the precipitating event was? What image did people in the UFOlogical community focus on to create the MIB? It is not enough to say that the MIB came from the collective paranoia of certain members of the UFO community who were convinced of a government cover up; we have to be able to point to an image that these people glommed on to in order to create the thought form. If some of the MIB’s are thought forms, I would guess that the image from whence they were created would be the government agents encountered in 1 above.

4) This is where I may be crossing into uncharted waters. It is quite possible that some MIB’s are actual people and we have looked at the possibility of the MIB being either one of the Intruders or a thought form. My own psychic ticklers propose another solution to this problem. MIB’s seem to be adamantly, even vehemently concerned with getting people to leave the UFO phenomenon alone. They plague witnesses and researchers alike and those who have had encounters with them have often noted that they seemed slightly out of place, odd, different, creepy etc. Witnesses also often report that these beings just did not seem to belong in their bodies – they were awkward, their speech sounded wrong, they did not seem to understand appropriate and inappropriate behavior. All of these seem to me to be hallmarks of a being who is not used to living in a physical body and has not quite figured out how to run the thing. Is it possible that the MIB are a group opposed to the Intruders on the astral/etheric but who lack the manifestation skills of their opponents on this plane?

I grant that this is a wild theory and not the most elegant but it rings true to me on the intuitive level. If you could use one word to describe MIB encounters, “clumsy” might be a good one. Reading the accounts of other writers, I have been struck, again and again, by the feeling that these beings are just not used to physical manifestation but that they are trying, almost desperately to get people out of the UFO field. They seem to have a deep understanding of just how dangerous the intruders are. I do not think they are trying to cover up anything: I believe that they are trying their clumsy best to get humans out of harms way.

The Intruders

I have been reading Nick Redfern’s book Monster Diary for fun of late and decided, in a few spare moments, to check out one of his interviews on Binnall of America. I was delighted to discover that the interview in question covered Mr. Redfern’s book Final Events. This publication, one which I now want to read, covers the work of a government think tank that came to the conclusion that the UFO phenomenon has absolutely nothing to do with aliens visiting our planet from another planet/galaxy and everything to do with demonic forces arrayed against human kind and manipulating us toward Armageddon.

In addition to the demonic intervention theory, the members of this group, referred to in the book as the Collins Elite, came to a number of other frightening conclusion. It was their belief that the earth was basically a “farm” where humans were raised to feed hungry demon kind (shades of The Matrix) and that at death, these demons feasted on the souls of humans beings. I have not read the book so I do not know if this refers only to the humans who have had contact with them or humans in general but, as Mr. Binnall pointed out in the interview, the prospect is terrifying either way. If you are interested in hearing more about this theory, the discussion starts at about minute 87:00 on the audio I listened to.

I strongly agree with Mr. Redfern’s stance throughout the interview that, while the Collins Elite group had some valid ideas in re the thought that the UFO phenomenon might be caused by something inter dimensional rather than extraterrestrial, they did not expand their thinking past their own markedly Judeo-Christian mode of cognition. In their Otherworld, there are only two options – heaven and hell – and since these beings did not appear to be on the side of the angels, they had to, therefore, be residents of hell.

Now, as with most things, I do not rule out the interference of entities that might be classed by some as demons in the UFO field; however, as I have noted throughout these pages, the magical philosophy operates in very Shakespearean terms: there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your (or the Collins Elite) philosophy. Anyone who has had dealings with the esoteric quickly learns that the Otherworld is a multi-layered affair populated by an endless panoply of creatures. Some of those beings look with favor on humans, most are disinterested and some view humans as prey. While I do not think that our world is a vast farm set up to feed these parasitic entities, it is certainly the case that these predatory energies are constantly seeking new food sources and that the more intelligent “critters” are quite willing to create elaborate scenarios to terrify people into producing their favorite elixir: fear.

In my view, the abduction scenario is a favorite ploy right now but one can also class aggressive hauntings, sexual predation by spirits (lust is also good food) and other such phenomenon as the work of the “nasties”. Magic has always been concerned with, amongst other things, keeping these critters at bay; thus, the plethora of banishing rituals, methods for working with more beneficial spirits to protect against the predators and even evocation to summon the nasties and bind them to the magician’s will (not suggested). While I appreciate that modern investigators of the paranormal are attempting to make themselves more mainstream by trying to be scientific about their study, I think they are doing themselves and those they may be seeking to help a great disservice by failing to take into account what the magical traditions have been saying about these beings for years.

Both Mr. Binnall and Mr. Redfern, in their closing remarks, noted that there seems to be a dearth of new material coming forward on the paranormal, almost as if the entities have gotten tired of dealing with us. I predict that, quite the contrary, the entities, which I am going to dub the Intruders here so that I can quit casting around for something to call them, are regrouping. What will happen, in the next ten years or so, is that we will see something completely new coming forth in the paranormal field with a subsequent dash by investigators to try to fit this new type of incident into their world view.

In response to The Cult of the Moon Beast

Mysterious Universe and its doughty contributor Nick Redfern provide me with yet more blogging material in an interesting article titled “The Cult of the Moon Beast”.  In this text, we read the story of Rob, a young man traumatized as a teen by a sheep mutilation on his family’s farm.  Rob becomes convinced not only that there is a group of “magicians” responsible for this atrocity but that these selfsame “occultists” are part of a larger plot to provide psychic assassination services for government and private entities. 

Now, before we set aside Rob’s story as the ramblings of a paranoid, we need to be aware that such things actually are possible.  Dion Fortune, in her book The Secrets of Dr. John Taverner, chapter 6, The Death Hound, describes a scenario in which a member of a “Black Lodge” sends a thought form to scare a man with a weak heart to death.  While this book is a work of fiction, it is widely known amongst occultists that Taverner was modeled on one of Fortune’s magical mentors, Dr. Theodore Moriarty, and that the novel is a fictionalized series of real life case histories.  

Evocation, the practice of calling forth spirits and having dealings with them, is a magical skill as old as magic itself.  While I am not going to go into the specifics of how evocations are done, I will say that animal sacrifice has been practiced in association with some of these rites throughout history and that, generally, the spirits called by such rites are of a lower vibration (that is, they are not angels or other such beings of light).  The spirit is generally brought into manifestation within a protected space and is only released to do the evocators bidding once a “deal” has been struck between the two.  While some of the old grimoires supplied Names (usually of God) by which the spirit might be bound to the evocator’s will, it is actually much simpler to treat with the spirit and agree to give it something it wants in exchange for something that you want.  Payment for services rendered.  

As an example, an evocator might choose a particular spirit from a grimoire (basically a magical text) because it is said to excel at providing access to buried treasures.  The evocator summons this spirit and asks the spirit to provide him or her with the location of a treasure.  The spirit replies that it will provide the location if the evocator is willing to make its name known to others.  The worker of the rite agrees and the spirit provides a location.  The treasure is duly discovered in the indicated location and the summoner publishes the story in an occult magazine or other very public source. 

Sounds easy, does it not?  What I neglected to point out in the example is the years of training it takes to develop the necessary concentration and energy raising abilities to perform a rite like this.  I also should mention that these spirits tend to be very literal – if you tell the spirit you need 10,000 dollars right now and you do not care how the spirit gets it, be prepared for your house to burn down so that you can collect insurance.  This has actually happened.

Back to Rob’s story. While it is certainly possible that a group could call forth some very nasty entities through the use of animal sacrifice or that the animal sacrifice might be the required “fee” for the spirit’s work, I find Rob’s story to be weak on a couple of points.

First, such a group would, by necessity be working in a protected space. Given the somewhat public location of the rites, it is almost certain that the “cult” would also set up wards, basically a magical alarm system, around their work. I find it highly doubtful that Rob could have followed these people and witnessed their rites without being detected. Given the obvious secrecy required for this sort of work, detection by this group would have turned their full resources against our erstwhile percipient and, unless he happened to have become an adept himself, he would not have survived to tell Mr. Redfern the story.

Second, Rob’s story of the plot ascending into the high levels of the corporate world and government does not ring true. Monied groups and especially governments have access to intelligence or former intelligence resources who are quite capable of making someone disappear or of killing in such a way that the death appeared accidental or of natural causes. Why on earth would they need to hire magical “hit men” – essentially loose cannons – to do their “wet work” for them? My bet is that some government and perhaps even private entities have experimented with ways to psychically assassinate someone but that they have found that such methods are not as reliable as sending in a skilled physical operative.

As with most things, I think that the truth here lies along a continuum. While I do not completely buy Rob’s story, I think that it is clear that he suffered a traumatic event as a teen and that this event propelled him into a search for the why and how of the event. We are not told what turned his attention away from the oft touted UFO explanation of livestock mutilation and towards magic but, as he researched this aspect, I suspect that he began to see pieces fall into place, which formed a theory, which became an obsession that produced some pretty wild ideas. I hope that, wherever he is today, he has found some peace around this subject.

In response to Alien Infiltration Vs. Mind Games

I subscribe to the Mysterious Universe feed and, the other day, I got this tidbit in my Reader. Now, I have already written a bit about my take on most UFO abduction scenarios in my posts on the Grays, but I wanted to take a moment to address the unique witness statement of “Alison” quoted here.

As someone who looks at the paranormal and cryptozoological and occasionally the UFOlogical from a magical and folkloric perspective, one might assume that my instant response to Alison’s statements would be that the negative astral etheric entities responsible for most abduction scenarios had simply invented a new game. While this is certainly a possibility (these beings have shown themselves to be infinitely adaptable and good at getting the reaction they want from us), I think that Alison might have had an experience of another kind, much more human origin.

One of the commenters , Underseer, mentioned MKUltra and other known mind control experiments as a possible explanation for Alison’s experience. I am inclined to agree. Modern day warfare is no longer won with tanks and artillery. While much ado is made of drones and other killing technologies, the modern war is one that is often fought in the hearts and minds (if I may borrow a phrase) of the opponents and their supporters. Imagine, if you will, the advantage that could be had from being able to pluck key members of your opposition from their camps and altering their minds to make them believe that they had been picked up by members of an alien race (or the djinn, for that matter) and told to mend their evil ways. Such an ability could also allow the mind controllers to plant tracking devices in places where the abductee would not look for them, allowing the controllers access to all sorts of intelligence on the routes, locations and hiding places of their enemy. Even if the controllers are unable to bring the experience fully to the victims’s consciousness, the PTSD like symptoms engendered by such experiences would like result in an extreme decrease in the enemy’s efficiency.

If the controllers also happen to have experienced psi experimenters working with them, and again past projects seem to indicate this, it is even possible that they are seeking a way to loosen people up and make them more suggestible to telepathic receipt and transmission. What better way to keep track of your enemy than to be able to travel around in his head or to be able to reach out and touch him whenever you need intelligence? Now, I grant that this is pretty far fetched but I do not think it is beyond the realm of possibility.

As Underseer noted, such experiments would be costly, would require persons very skilled in working with cognition and memory and would be subject to extreme levels of secrecy. It does no good to develop such a program if the enemy knows about it. I think though that what Underseer is missing, in his or her supposition that the abductors would hide their secret at all costs, is that most people are quite willing to live in willful ignorance. Specifically, how many people are really going to take Alison’s story seriously?

The abductors in this case do not need to take drastic measures against Alison to make sure she does not talk. The only people who are going to believe her story are people on the fringe who can be easily discounted as “those UFO nuts” or smirked at as “conspiracy theorists”. I have written previously about the unwillingness of people who experience extreme hauntings to come forward or seek help. The question that rings in their minds, as it would with an abductee of any sort, is: who will believe me? If the abductors found that, for whatever reason, their experiment was going awry, it would be far easier for them to back away and fly off in their black helicopter than it would be to try to remediate the problem in another way. They doubtless have other test subjects and a certain number of failures are going to happen in any experimental protocol, no matter how well prepared.

Anytime we look at a phenomenon and say, “this is the cause, there is no other”, we are setting ourselves up to be proven incorrect since incontrovertible evidence is rare in these areas. I do believe that the majority of UFO abduction scenarios are caused by negative astral/etheric entities seeking to feed off the terror that they build into the experience. However, I also believe it quite likely that some abductions are the result of groups doing mind control experiments on unwilling subjects. For all I know there may be a third, fourth and fifth explanation as well. Polarization of thought (either A or B) needs to be replaced in these circumstance with more A and B and C and . . . thinking.

The Silence

A quote from Linda Godfrey’s The Michigan Dogman, p. 66: “. . . He added that he always felt that there was an element of the paranormal in the experience (writer’s note: this is a dogman/manwolf witness) due to the complete silence of the natural world in the creature’s presence.”

This notation comes from a witness who, at the age of 13, encountered a manwolf type creature in an abandoned military silo in Kansas. He finally talked about the incident with Ms. Godfrey as a 45 year old business man and one of the things that really stuck in his memory was the quiet as he and some friends approached that structure. It was such a marked contrast to the usual night noises of the areathat it made a strong impression.

I’ve spent a good bit of time in the wilderness and I can say from experience that, once you have tuned to the rhythm of the area, nature is seldom silent. Birds cry, squirrels make scampering sounds as they cling to the bark of trees, mice can be heard scurrying in the undergrowth, the leaves of trees and plants brush together in any breeze and so on. One of the quietest places that I know of is the desert and even there, once you have been in situ for a while and gotten used to the difference between city sound and desert sound, you will begin to hear the small sounds of movement, wind etc. that you hear in other natural settings. It is muted but it is there.

One of the things that I have noted, though is the silence that falls when practicing magic. Once upon a time, in my more “out” pagan days, I did a handfasting ritual for a lovely couple out in the desert north of Phoenix. There were a number of people in attendance and the two most common comments following the ritual were: “wow, I really felt something” and “it was so quiet!”. Anyone who has some experience working with zone rites (things like banishing rituals) will tell you that they have times, once they have some experience, where it seems as though they have been cut off from the whole of this world and cast into a silent bubble all their own. I don’t have a lot of practice at formal ceremonial magic style invocations but it is my understanding that a peculiar silence descends over the working area, particularly right before the manifestation of the being that is being invoked (or evoked, for that matter).

I’ve also encountered this silence in nature while hiking in the Superstition range. I wandered into a canyon during one of my rambles and, instantly, the hair almost literally stood up on my head. Fear stirred deep within me and I remember that the place was unnaturally quiet. I forced myself to walk a little deeper into the canyon and stood for a few moments. It was bright clear spring day but, in my perception, that canyon seemed darker by several shades and cooler. I knew that the whole area was sacred to the Apache and that it was said to be the home of their Thunder Beings. I decided that discretion was the better part of valor and backed slowly out of the area. Once I was clear, I felt warm again, my surroundings seemed brighter and all the sound returned.

Godfrey theorizes that this effect is caused by electromagnetic or time/spaces anomalies, basing her ideas on the work of Paul Devereaux in The Haunted Land. While some of these disturbances may be natural occurrences associated with poorly understood currents of earth energy, I think that it behooves us, as researchers, to remember that there are a lot of magical practitioners around today and that magical practice has been a part of almost every culture that has existed on this planet.

I am all for taking EMF readings and using other scientific instruments in the field but I think it is also critical that we approach any incident of high strangeness with someone in tow who knows about and recognizes the “feel” of various magical workings and recognizes the tools and signs of such workings. Certainly, the silence that falls in many of these episodes may have to do with rifts between this world and the next. What I would want to know, as a researcher, would be why the rift occurred: is it a natural event brought about by disturbances in the planet’s EMF, a product of a entity moving onto our plane for its own reason (anything from an angel on down), the effect of a magical ritual which produced a very real manifestation or something else altogether?

I think that, too often, investigations end with either “yes, we can explain/debunk this as X” or “wow, that was truly unexplainable”. I understand the allure of mystery but, when it prevents us from asking other questions, mystery begins to look like an unwillingness to go farther.